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In 2018, I'm resolving to eat more snacks. But not any snacks: I'm resolving to learn to make more of my own at home. There are a few advantages to mastering recipes behind crunchy, savory, hard-to-put-down snack foods like crackers and chips and granola. For starters, you can adjust the flavors and customizations to exactly the way you like them. Also, it's much more fun to eat something you've made by hand. You skip the preservatives and additives needed to make packaged food shelf-stable, which is a kinder-to-your-body and more wholesome way to go about snacking.
One of the simplest snacks to make at home happens to be one of the prettiest as well: beet chips. My younger sister used to make these all the time, and they are utterly delicious and rather more-ish as the British would say (meaning you just want more and more). Made by shaving a whole beet thinly on a mandoline, drizzling them with olive oil and sea salt, and baking them until crunchy, these chips have all the characteristics I love about potato chips (crisp and salty and addictive) without having to mess about with a fryer or a vat of hot oil on your stove.
Note: As you can see, I like to bake my chips until they just teeter on the edge of burnt, but that's a personal preference. You can take them out whenever you like, depending on your taste level for crispiness.
The mandoline technique isn't hard, but it does require actually owning a mandoline. I always assumed the trick to getting such good results with beet chips was making your slices as thin as possible. Happily, this isn't the case. This fall, my mother showed me her own take on beet chips without a mandoline. She simply uses a very sharp knife and cuts the beets as thinly as she can, without worrying too much about them being paper-thin or totally uniform in size.
Just slice the beets, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet (try not to have them overlap too much), rub them with oil, sprinkle them with salt, and bake them. The advantage to having the beets slightly thicker in some places means that the chips are crisp and crunchy on the edges but retain a bit of chewiness to the center. I love that juxtaposition of textures, and it's nice that it is the result of simplifying the recipe a bit.
If you want to vary the flavor of the chips, you can sprinkle some herbs or spices over the top. Za'atar spice would be delicious, or dried fennel and caraway. Try some garlic powder and chili flakes, or a dusting of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. Of course, you can't go wrong with just sea salt and pepper, because simple is always best.
- 6 medium to large beets, scrubbed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
Will you be making beet and other root vegetable chips this year? Let us know in the comments.